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May 1, 2024

Guidelines for marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages in ASEAN officially launched

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May 1, 2024

On March 18, 2024, the ASEAN Health Ministers launched the "Minimum Standards and Guidelines on Actions to Protect Children from the Harmful Impact of Marketing of Food and Non-alcoholic Beverages." These guidelines were adopted during the ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting in September of the previous year. Made up of 12 recommendations, the guidelines advocate for several measures including but not limited to implementation of mandatory and comprehensive government legislation, as well as the establishment of a clear definition of “children” being those under the age of 18 and a food classification system. 

As of this writing, six out of the ten ASEAN member states (Brunei, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) have adopted government-led regulations to curb the marketing of unhealthy foods. Additionally, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand have initiated industry-led initiatives in this regard. The majority of ASEAN member states maintain the definition of children as individuals up to the age of 18 under Child and Young Persons Protection Laws, except for Vietnam, which defines children as those under 16 years of age, and Cambodia, which lacks a specific law defining the age threshold. 

Furthermore, the report highlights the number of overweight or obese children under the age of 5 within the ASEAN region, amounting to over 12 million. It also provides findings regarding the mean weekly intake of fast food, ranging from 1.4 to 4.1 days per week among children aged between 12 and 15 in ASEAN member states, excluding Myanmar and Singapore due to lack of comparable data.

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